“Brainstorm” sounds like a hipster word to me. I don’t really know why I think that but I stand by it. It turns out the term was in the dictionary at least a century ago.
Then, the definition of “brainstorm” was “a sudden and severe attack of mental illness”, “a temporary loss of reason” or “a serious error in judgement.” In fact the Oxford Dictionary still supplies those as alternate definitions. These days, a brainstorm holds connotations of something more positive, creative and constructive, usually a group discussion designed to generate ideas.
It isn’t group hysteria though.
Funny though, when someone has an idea that they want to lay on you that is new and unique, and maybe even a bit unorthodox, they’ll probably – perhaps self-deprecatingly – present it as a “crazy idea.”
These are usually the best ideas, probably because they were the result of the person doing a little bit of brainstorming on their own. I’m not saying that every “crazy idea” is a great one. Many of them are just…well, loony ideas. But a really good idea is very likely at some point considered by someone as a “crazy” one. Everything that has never been done before looks crazy to someone. But a lot of things that have never been done before are exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, maybe without ever knowing it.
You’ve heard that song that goes “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” right? Well what the world may need now is “crazy ideas.” Maybe we need risk-takers. To say we need a “paradigm shift” is a cliche, hyperbolic platitude. Like when people say society needs “change” but without offering any particular plan. Maybe it even sounds like a crazy idea.
So it’s probably worth looking into.
Today my personal Facebook page gave me a bittersweet reminder of where I was as a freelance writer one year ago. That day last year I posted a link to a piece I did for my first on-going client of which I was particularly proud.
It is bittersweet because of how quickly a string of very promising leads this spring amounted to naught. It was partly a failure on my part to seal the deals, but it also had a lot to do with the emergence of Covid-19. I do my freelance work mostly from home, whereas the leads were customer-facing places of business. Surely they were keeping a very close eye on the unfolding situation.
Not that I wasn’t. Maybe it was the idealist in me that kept plugging away at leads as though the world were not about to be drastically upended. Maybe it is the idealist in me that keeps me believing that I’ll have those opportunities again, and what keeps me promoting my freelance business. It was still fairly new when Covid came along, so it turns out last year amounted to its glory days.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all of this as the Neowise comet passes by this week. If you aren’t aware of it, the comet will be visible between now and July 24th, and will not return for 6,700 Earth years. If you’re doing the math at home, that is a once-in-almost-one-hundred-lifetimes sight to see.
We’ve all probably been told at some point that certain opportunities come once in a lifetime. Covid or no Covid, a lot of us can’t help but wondering what opportunities we allowed to shoot right past and burn out before our eyes before Covid came along and made it all kind of irrelevant. That’s not something one ought to dwell on, and I won’t.
I don’t think that last summer was my only window when it comes to local freelance writing. Because I know that commerce will bounce back, one way or another. It may not look like it did last summer, but we will recover. So I hope that when my fellow local business owners get back on their feet, I will be able to connect with them and help them in that recovery.
For tonight, I think I’ll head outside and sit under the stars for a while and take in a celestial spectacle. At least of that one I can be certain this week is my one chance in this lifetime. I don’t want to miss it.
Today I’d like to talk about macaroni and cheese. I like macaroni and cheese. Always have. I’m 41 years old and I can still taste the very distinctive way my babysitter would make it. I couldn’t begin to describe it, and I have only recently begun to figure out how she did it. And that was by accident and I’ll never tell.
If I’d figured it out in college when I ate macaroni and cheese quite often, I may have been making it that way all these years just for pure nostalgia’s sake. But I do like variety. When it comes to my macaroni and cheese, though I like the tried and true, I have been surprisingly experimental over the years.
My personal favorites?
Curry Mac – I went through a stage in which I was all about the Indian food and always wanted to put a little bit of that flavor into anything I cooked. It didn’t always work but the first time I made curry mac I remember declaring to my wife that I’d never make it without curry again. That didn’t last. It was good though.
Macaroni and Sunflower Seeds – Yeah I don’t know what I was doing here. Again it was a period where a certain food item, this time sunflower seeds (out of the shell) kind of began to dominate my culinary persona. I would put them in everything. I liked to roast them a bit then chuck them in my macaroni and cheese. For texture and for protein because I was a vegetarian at the time.
Macaroni and Peas – This has been the most enduring version in my household. Whenever I tell my wife I am going to make macaroni and cheese she asks if we have any peas. I usually make peas on the side just to appease her (see what I did there?) even if I myself feel like having the original version.
Macaroni and Chick’n and California Blend Vegetables – I spelled it “chick’n” because that is generally how the vegetarian excuse for chicken is referred to. I honestly don’t remember if I ever made macaroni and cheese with real chicken strips before I went veg, and I haven’t since rejoining the omnivorous life. If you don’t know, “California Blend” is broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. This is one that I have not had in a very long time, but just writing about it, right now I kind of miss it. On a side note, I’ve been known to have this one either without the vegetables or without the “chick’n” in a pinch.
Tofu Chili Mac – This is an old classic with a twist. I don’t know if I ever had it with ground beef based chili before I went veg, but I would often make a chili with a dense tofu crumble in place of the beef, and for some reason at some point I started making home made elbow macaroni and Velveeta cheese whenever I made the chili. Inevitably they ended up in one dish when I was throwing together a lunch for work one day. It was kind of a revelation. Sincerely.
Macaroni and Cheese and Tomato Soup – Along the same lines but a little lazier, I used to make that same home made macaroni and cheese with Velveeta, and on top of that I’d pour on some tomato soup. I don’t know why. I think it is because when I was a kid we’d always have ring bologna with either macaroni and cheese or tomato macaroni on the side. I bet I didn’t have the bologna but for some reason I got the notion that I had to have both.
So you can see that when it comes to food, nothing inspires me to tinker more than macaroni and cheese. I hope you see at least one variety that you’ll have a go at yourself. Hope you like it.
Today, June 30th, is in fact World Social Media Day. I don’t know what that means precisely as most of the suggestions for how you can “celebrate” this day are things that people are increasingly doing anyway.
But I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to remind you that if you own a business or are in charge of the marketing for such a business, you have to get serious about social media.
I’d call it “Social Marketing” but that is already a thing, and it’s different.
I am a freelance writer but I’ve always encouraged clients and prospective clients to take my work and unleash it upon the world via all manner of social media and let that wave of influence work the way it does. I find most businesses have a company Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account (or whatever the next big thing is this week) but they don’t always know what to post that is related to the business.
If you post the writing I do for you on your social media, odds are your followers are current customers – people who know your work, who trust and believe in you. When they, in turn, share my post, their endorsement should carry enough weight to inspire a number of the next wave to come see what you’re all about. If they like what they see, they will share the post with their friends. Ideally.
Then they tell two friends.
Then they tell two friends.
And so on. And so forth.
As “World Social Media Day” implies, you can get your message around quite literally the entire world in a day if you strike the right chord with the right people. If you do, well that’s gravy, but all you’ve really got to do is get people in your immediate area to share it with more people in your immediate area, depending on how massive you want to become.
Social media is the ultimate passive marketing, the most effective way to exponentially increase the number of people who hear about you, all with a good reason to trust the endorsement because they heard it from a friend. It is so much more personal than an ad or a local news article written about your business.
Let’s start with a conversation to determine what you need your public to know:
What makes your business so shareable?
What will inspire your followers to turn around and say “Hey guys, you’ve gotta go check this out”?
Think about it and get in touch with me. Let’s go!
When you write freelance material for a client, it is great to be able to give them something that no one else has. Kind of like getting “the scoop” before any other news outlet, to put it in olde-timey journalistic parlance. Really it is about giving them something fresh to offer their followers. Digging a bit deeper than anyone else bothers to.
To illustrate what I’m talking about:
This Friday is the anniversary of the day that, in 1846, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York played the first known match under the official rules they had written up the year before. In the match they were destroyed by a club called the New York Nine, who thrashed the over-confident Knickerbocker Club by a score of 23-1 on the Knicks’ home turf, Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ.
I have noticed that history tends to come down to us in threes.
- First there is the mythologized version of what happened.
- Then there is “the real story.”
- And then, when you dig a little deeper you get “the whole story.”
The myth was that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY seven years before the Knickerbocker vs. Nine match. The myth is the reason that to this day the National Baseball Hall of Fame is situated in Cooperstown. But it didn’t happen.
The “real story” is that Knickerbocker Club member Alexander Cartwright had written the rules the previous year. Often referred to as the “Cartwright Rules” it is a set of regulations so imperfectly perfect that they seem totally random and ordained from On High all at once.
But the “whole story” is that versions of the game were already being played by kids for probably hundreds of years before Cartwright. Though he probably played a huge role in the “invention” of baseball as it is played today, a great deal of the credit ought to go to another Knickerbocker Club member, Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, and William Wheaton. As a matter of fact, Wheaton has claimed to have written up a set of rules for the Gotham Base Ball Club in 1837!
There is plenty of information, and there are plenty of accounts that have been dug up concerning their roles in early baseball that you can research on your own if you are interested.
That is “the scoop” I mentioned. That’s the “exclusive!” In the old days, in pursuit of “the scoop” a story would rarely reach the “real story” level, and certainly their was no time for the “whole story”. Fortunately it is a different time and Dailey Freelance can take the time to give you more depth. More substance.
Have you noticed a trend in marketing, usually in videos on platforms like YouTube, where the pitch for engagements (a LIKE, a share, a comment) is getting much more aggressive?
It used to be “…and be sure to share and like…” and then maybe it became “be sure to hit that LIKE button…” Then the big thing was an appeal to “SMASH that LIKE button!”
It’s all very ‘roid rage meets social media.
MMA meets marketing.
Spike TV meets…..well that’s not even a thing anymore.
The point is that its over-the-topness allegedly makes the content seem edgy and exciting — urgent even, when really it isn’t.
The only true way to ensure your content will get in front of as many eyes as possible is to actually make it engaging first and foremost, but also meaningful and useful. It has to pull them in. It has to show them who you are make them believe in the work that you do. Giving you a LIKE and a share is a commitment. One’s reputation is on the line when they give your work such an endorsement. You have to earn that!
If the content you are consuming requests that you smash anything, that does not necessarily mean that it lacks substance, but personally I am not inspired to confidence in the content when I am asked to smash the LIKE button before I’ve actually viewed the meat of the content. Frankly I am uncomfortable with how often that is where this appeal is made. It is basically telling you “Smash that LIKE button and then I’ll show you whether the video warrants any such enthusiasm.
Anyway, now that I’ve given you the opportunity to read what I’ve got to say on the subject, if you feel it is of any value, I want you to DESTROY that LIKE button and OBLITERATE that SHARE button! While you’re at it, head on over to the Dailey Freelance page on Facebook and DISMANTLE that SHARE button as well. Come on!
About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.
Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.
The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.
Because it’s unexpected.
That’s kind of its jam.
You don’t see it coming.
So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.
Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.
I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.
I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.
With a renewed vigor.
With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.
We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:
People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.
So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:
One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you
My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.
I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.
This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.
Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.
But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.
For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.
Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.
I hope you and those you love are doing very well.
As a disabled person, I am aware that I am at a greater risk of succumbing to a virus that affects the respiratory system than the average person my age. So I am extremely grateful that the world as a whole has agreed that staying away from each other to stop the spread of the dreaded COVID-19, to save the lives of the more vulnerable yet valuable members of our society, is worth doing.
I don’t know how long it will take. And I am a little afraid there will come a time when it could put just as many lives at risk due to loss of income as it would have had we not social-distanced in the first place.
For now, despite what I just said, I remain very hopeful.
I am a freelance writer but currently I also have a full time job, another thing I remain hopeful about and grateful for. But it is hard to see people in other industries losing their income and livelihood. Some of them have been clients of mine.
I feel for them. Though my freelancing is only a side business, it has given me a taste of what being a part of the “gig economy” is like, where you depend on that next client to keep your business going. It’s hard enough being a gig worker under normal conditions. But now, when all of your potential clients are just thinking about how they are going to keep their business afloat while all of their potential clients limit their spending while worrying about how long this crisis is going to last, well…there are no words.
Still, whether you are in a line of business that is currently on shut down, or not, the best thing you can do is keep a social media presence with your tribe – your current clients or those who might become your clients:
- Let them know either that business is rolling along as usual or tell them a bit about what you are doing in the meantime.
- Let them know about the precautions your business is taking to ensure they are safe in doing business with you, now or whenever you re-open.
- Take this time to tell them about yourself and the work you do.
If it is still business as usual for you, I’d like to help you keep that flow of communication going between you and your people. I’ve lost a couple of prospective clients to the newspaper. The newspaper can do a very nice feature write-up about you and your business, and reach a very hefty chunk of the local population for free. What they can’t do is speak directly to your clients, or to those who may become your client. And they cannot speak to them in the language that you would. A freelance blogger can do that.
Let’s keep America rolling the best we can.
Please be well, and take care of those you can. And for those of you holding on during these uncertain times, I salute you.
This month is full of contradictions. So much so that the whole thing started last month, on February 29th. “Leap Day.” We gained a whole day.
We coasted off that momentum right into March 4th, “the only day that tells you what to do.” March forth! It is also known as “Do Something Day!” meant to be a day of positive initiative. Just in case we didn’t make good use of February 29th.
Yeah, but then a few days later we “lost an hour” when we Spring(ed) – (sprung? sprang?) – Forward. Nobody ever has anything positive to say about that day until they start to realize they’ve got more daylight after work. Then it’s all just lovely again.
Now, then. After we’d leapt, marched and sprung, the other night we had a full moon. I am not a superstitious person, but for those who are, the ominous implications of the full moon are likely to cancel out the extra hour before sunset, all of the marching forth they’d done, and (did I mention?) their entire extra day!
Just in case it doesn’t though, this Friday is “the 13th.”
Fear not, though. Because I assure you that if you manage to evade the perils of these two most inauspicious days, St. Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” will be right around the corner.
For your sake, I hope you are Irish.
I’m kidding. Just as whatever it is that is unleashed on a full moon and on Friday the 13th does not discriminate, on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish. So everything’s going to be fine. Then all you’ll have to worry about is what your friends have in store for you on April Fools’ Day.